By Yūsuf Badāt
What is the importance of having a will? What are some points I need to be aware of when preparing a will? How do I register a will in Canada which meets Islamic requirements?
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for your question
The Prophet Muḥammad (peach and blessings upon him) has emphasized the preparation of a Will at one’s earliest opportunity. According to a narration reported by ʿAbd Allāh Ibn ʿOmar (may God be pleased with him), the Messenger of God (peace and blessings upon him) said,
“It is not befitting for a Muslim who has something to make a Will of, to remain for two nights without having one’s last Will and testament written and kept ready.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
If a Muslim does not have a Will in a non-Muslim country such as Canada, the distribution of one’s wealth after death will not be rendered in accordance to Islamic injunctions.
For example according to the Canadian SLRA (Succession Law Reform Act) if one dies as an intestate (without a written will), the Canadian authorities will distribute the wealth of the deceased as follows in order of merit (which does not meet islamic requirements):
- Firstly, the preferential share of up to $200 000 will be given to the spouse that remains behind and the remaining amount distributed equally to the children of the deceased.
- If one has no spouse, the wealth will be divided equally to all the children.
- If one has no spouse or children, the wealth is inherited by parents.
- If one has no spouse, children or parents, the wealth is given to brothers and sisters.
- If one has no spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters or any other inheritors, the wealth is taken by the government.
Almighty God says in the Qurʾān regarding this;
“There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether the property be small or large, legally fixed shares by God” (Qurʾān 4:7)
Some basic Islamic requirements are as follows:
- Firstly, all debts of the deceased are to be paid off
- Secondly, funeral expenses are to be paid
- Thirdly, any bequest are to be fulfilled from one third of the wealth (bequest can only be allocated to one third of one’s wealth. Bequest cannot be made for inheritors designated by God)
- Finally, the remaining wealth is to be divided according to the allocated shares and designated heirs as per the injunctions of the Qurʾān (refer to an Islamic scholar for your individual cases).
Usually, a Will that meets Canadian law comprises of the following particulars:
- Name of Executor/s [or Trustee/s}
- Asset Distribution
A sample will can be found here: Sample Islamic Will
We suggest you contact both an Islamic scholar and a legal expert in estate law to draft your will which meets both Canadian laws as well as Islamic principles.
And Allāh Knows Best